The Positive Case for Professional Economic Ethics

George F. DeMartino

in The Economist’s Oath

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199730568
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199896776 | DOI:
The Positive Case for Professional Economic Ethics

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Having shown that the economist’s case against professional economic ethics is deficient, this chapter advances a positive case for professional economic ethics. Owing to its monopoly of expertise over subject matter this is vital to social welfare, economists face daunting ethical responsibilities that are reflected in the “professional covenant.” The chapter then presents an “escalating case” for professional economic ethics which comprises four uncontroversial propositions about what economists do and can know, and about the effects of economic practice on others. Each step in the case entails difficult ethical matters, while all steps taken together compel the conclusion that the profession has been remiss in declining to pursue professional economic ethics.

Keywords: professional covenant; William May; escalating case; expertise; intellectual monopoly; institutional power; harms; anticipated and unanticipated; risk; uncertainty

Chapter.  7950 words. 

Subjects: Public Economics

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